Assisted living facilities are designed to be an ideal resource for aging individuals who may retain some level of independence, but are beginning to have trouble with some of the daily tasks of maintaining or keeping a home/apartment.
If you find this is a question your family is talking about more and more, you’re not alone. One million Americans currently live in some form of assisted living, and statistics show that this number is expected to double by 2030. This is largely due to people living longer, and needing that additional support.
With this shift in mind, a lot of existing assisted living facilities are working to shift their offerings to better meet the needs and desires of their new prospective residents. Here are some of the major changes currently underway.
Recent surveys show that seniors are beginning to follow the younger generations, with more focusing on using social media than reading their daily newspapers.
What this means for assisted living is that tech adoption at all levels is the way to go. For example, having a computer area for seniors to use for communication and recreation may go from a “nice thing to have” to a dealbreaker for prospective residents.
From a logistical standpoint, tech has a lot to offer as well. For example, investing more in automation technology and software has the potential to cut out a lot of tedious work for staff, allowing for more time to focus on the needs of residents.
Some of the potential areas of automation include:
- Care plan automation
This particular trend is more of an offshoot of a general trend in buildings across the board. A variety of different structures are investing in tools like LEED windows and eco-friendly lighting/appliances to both help the environment and save money via energy efficiency.
In addition, this can go hand-in-hand with tech developments. Applying smart housing technology to assisted living makes it easier to regulate things like lighting and temperature.
The same applies to assisted living. It will be interesting to see, as time progresses, whether some of those energy efficiency savings are able to be passed down to future and current residents.
The Race For Top Staff
As nice as it is to have the latest technology present, it’s ultimately skilled staff members that makes an assisted living facility run.
As a result, worker shortages are beginning to pose both a problem and an opportunity for the industry. As a negative, some facilities try to race to the bottom in terms of wages to compensate, meaning there’s a lot of turnover which can slow general operations.
It’s not all bad news, though. Many facilities understand that they need to do more to draw in qualified professionals, and by doing so, they are recruiting top talent in their fields for certain areas, like IT or culinary services.
More and more assisted living facilities are taking a hard look at their workplace culture to attract the best staff possible.
More Design Variety
The days of uniform, sterile assisted living rooms are becoming a thing of the past. Nowadays, seniors want living spaces that truly feel like living spaces, which means a sense of individuality and design flair.
For joint spaces like living rooms, open floor plans are also becoming more popular. Having several activities held in one room is more efficient in terms of space and spending.
A Redefinition of “Senior Living”
In an interview with Senior Housing News, Brenda Bacon, President and CEO of Brandywine Living, expressed frustration with the idea that assisted living was getting divided between the concept of hospitality vs. healthcare.
“Why do we have to choose one or the other? We are senior living,” she explained. What this means is that more and more assisted living facilities are giving serious thought as to providing choices.
This is like the design aspect we just talked about, but extends to dining options; to entertainment options; to the ability to entertain guests. The mindset of many seniors is changing as to what they can accomplish at their age, and senior living needs to adjust to meet this need.
Ultimately, assisted living facilities are proving to be a great asset to an aging populace, but as that aging populace grows, the facilities are beginning to adapt to meet those needs.
More facilities to choose from and a more discerning customer base means that it’s important for people to do their research when deciding a facility fit for their loved ones. Multiple visits and discussions at several facilities may be needed before finding that ideal match.
Casey Ribick is a writer for Senior Care Center and manages an assisted living facility in Southern California. Originally from Romania, he has a passion for outdoors and travel. He writes about the health, senior care, and financial planning and enjoys connecting to audiences with his writing.